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The Big PTA - Episode 01: Kazuki the Reluctant Guardian

Act II

Kazuki smiled as the beautiful women surrounded him. They exchanged various toasts with each other, clanking their champagne glasses together gently. As he brought more of the inebriating beverage to his lips, Kazuki's thoughts were all but naughty.

A young green-haired woman approached his left side. Kazuki smiled and winked at the young woman before diverting his attention to the lady on his left. Suddenly, the green-haired woman poked his side.

"Hey! What're you doing?"

The woman, a stoic expression on her face, jabbed his ribs once more.

"Knock it off," Kazuki shouted, throwing his sheets over his head. He opened one eye just in time to see the android's finger approaching his ribcage for another jab. He attempted to slap the offensive approaching object away, but his hand merely slammed against it, creating a dull thud sound and an increase in pain.

"What the hell are you doing, R. D Lucas?"

"It is fifteen minutes past noon, Kazuki Yotsuga. You should be awake. Yayoi spent all night repairing Zinv and yet she has prepared your breakfast, which now sits cold."

Kazuki honestly wondered how much of the repairs were actually performed by Yayoi in comparison to D, but suspected he'd never know. Instead of investigating the subject further, Kazuki attempted to wrap himself in the protective cocoon of his sheets.

D grabbed the remaining edge of the sheet and made a motion that seemed quite effortless on its end, but swiftly dumped Kazuki onto his mattress without any cover to hide under. His butt firmly in the air and his face mashed against his bed, Kazuki simply gave D a dazed look.

Yayoi seductively slinked into the room, walking around the large screen Kazuki had installed to prevent the numerous occasions where she would "accidentally" walk into the room while he was changing. As she rounded the corner, she sensuously whispered, "Kazuki... It's time to wake--"

The scene before her interrupted Yayoi's comment. Stammering for a moment, Yayoi collected her thoughts before responding, "What is going on here?"

D glanced up from the bed toward Yayoi, its cold, expressionless face shrouded slightly in shadows by the noontime sun drifting in through the window it had opened behind it. "Kazuki needed to wake up, so I performed the task."

"B-But that's my job," Yayoi insisted, clearing the distance between the screen and Kazuki's bed with surprising speed. "Who asked you do this?"

D's uncovered eye merely blinked as the android remained speechless.

Kazuki groaned softly as he attempted to shift his body into a more dignified position. Rubbing the sleep away from his eyes, he scowled at D. "There are certain rules you must follow if you intend to live here," Kazuki began counting the list on his fingers, having finally regained some feeling in his previously numb hand, "First, do not wake me up early, especially in the fashion that you just did! Second--"

"Noon is not early."

Grumbling, Kazuki turned his attention to young white-haired woman who was still eyeing the android suspiciously, "Yayoi... Yayoi!" The shout brought the lady's attention back to him. "Contact 'him' immediately. Tell him the usual place."

Yayoi, glancing back at the android one last time, replied, "Right away, sir." She slowly turned away from the two and left the room.

Kazuki turned his attention back toward the android, his demeanor slightly improved. "You know, there are much nicer ways to be woken in the morning," a slick smile spread across his face.

D's eye looked back at him, its head remaining at the same angle as before. The monotonous voice merely replied, "You're a sleaze-ball." With that, D left Kazuki's bedroom, his sheets still in its hands.

**

The steel blue car pulled up outside of the seedy bar. Kazuki glanced over at his cybernetic companion through his blue glasses. "Stay here, D."

It simply nodded its head and stared straight ahead out the windshield.

Kazuki casually opened the car door and stepped out onto the street. Pressing a button on his key chain, the car's alarm system activated. He doubted anyone would attempt to harm his vehicle and if they did, over-power D, but it was a precaution that had become a force of habit if nothing else. The car raised off of the pavement as Kazuki rounded the front-end, armor plating surrounding the wheels and windows. He winked at D as its face disappeared from view. His car's transformation complete, Kazuki entered the pub.

As he passed the bar, Kazuki held his hand up to the bartender. The man merely shook his head, setting the bottle on the bar surface and stating, "I'm still cleaning up glass from the last bottle I threw to you, you damned klutz."

"Heh," Kazuki winced slightly as he remembered that fiasco. "Did the old man ever get that bottle cap removed from his..."

The bartender nodded, "Yeah, but the doctor's bill was a nightmare. At least you got him to not sue or this place would be broke."

Kazuki gave the bartender a nod and walked over to his favorite side-booth. It was a quiet area not frequented by the bar's normal clientele. As he flopped down into the seat, the large man next to him addressed Kazuki, "So, I hear that the Lucas estate has a serpent problem."

Kazuki brought the bottle up to his lips, taking a small sip before replying, "Word travels fast, it seems. However, I already know of this problem. I was wondering what other information you could provide me, Mr. R--"

The man slammed his fist onto the table before pointing a finger at Kazuki from behind his newspaper. In an annoyed tone, he whispered his reply, "I told you not to call me that, Mr. Negotiator! You know my name!"

Kazuki's eye peeked from behind his blue sunglasses at the portly fellow next to him. At the angle his head was currently at, the light shining off his head would probably have blinded him. Kazuki chuckled slightly at this thought and added, "My apologies, Big Papa." Why the man had chosen a name that could obviously lead to ridicule, Kazuki could not guess. Despite his dubious taste in names, however, Big Papa was quite resourceful and had saved Kazuki in many tough situations since he had left Shourai Corp.

Clearing his throat, Big Papa continued, "It seems Shourai has lost track of one of their top scientists. Word is, he was working on some black project that is highly confidential. All I can determine is that Shourai wants him back badly. They're willing to do almost anything to this end."

Kazuki sighed, taking another swig of his drink. "Is that all?"

Big Papa chuckled, a small smile spreading across his face. "So impatient, Mr. Negotiator... It seems that the warehouse district has been the scene of some strange events of late. Loud rumblings wake the local... 'residents' late at night. The police have investigated, but turned up nothing. One warehouse in particular has been mentioned by local 'residents'," by 'residents', it was understood that he meant the homeless. It was an unfortunate state to be in, but there was nothing Kazuki could do about it.

The man handed Kazuki a piece of paper with an address. "I wouldn't advise going there myself, but when have you ever listened to my advice?"

Kazuki, finished with his drink, placed the bottle onto the table. He rose from his booth, placing a small wad of cash on the adjacent table. Big Papa quickly scooped it up and counted it just as quickly behind his newspaper. "So much?"

Kazuki smiled. "For the advice, taken or not." He turned, leaving the bar and returning to the vehicle he had left outside. Pressing another button on his key chain, the car lifted once more and the armor plates retracted before the vehicle once again returned to the ground. D continued staring straight out the windshield, completely unfazed.

Kazuki opened the door and slid into the leather seat, smiling at his companion. "Up for a little adventure, D?"

Its head turned to face Kazuki. The emotionless voice simply replied, "Yes. Let's go to the warehouse."

Kazuki's eyes widened. "What? How'd you know about that?"

"I could hear you."

"Through the metal plating, the walls, the noise... All of it?"

D merely nodded. "Yes."

Closing his eyes, Kazuki sighed and slumped back into the seat. "I see. You are a wondrous creation, R. D Lucas."

The cool voice responded, "D, my name is D."

"Right..."

**

A small shaft of light penetrated the darkened steel shelter.

Rats scurried away from the light that had invaded their domain. Sliding in-between the crack in the door and the wall, Kazuki slipped in. He fumbled around in his suit pockets until he discovered the flashlight he was carrying.

"D, what are you doing," he whispered softly. "Get in here."

The android, not one for subtlety, slammed a hand into the door, causing it to fly across the building, the sound echoing through out.

Kazuki spun around and shouted at D, "What the hell are you doing? You completely blew the element of surprise!"

D's eye surveyed the entire building, its head swiveling from left to right. "There is no one present at this time. Therefore, there is no one to surprise."

"How do you know--," Kazuki remembered who he was talking to and sighed. The android was probably right anyway. He turned on the flashlight he was carrying and began walking toward what appeared to be a control room.

As they approached, Kazuki's light dimmed. He slammed it against his free hand numerous times, shaking it between blows. Unfortunately, his efforts were in vain as the light went completely out.

A bright blue light emanating from behind him caused Kazuki to turn around. D was holding back the bangs that normally covered her missing eye, revealing a blue light that illuminated the surroundings.

Kazuki, his eyes fixated on the oddity, asked, "What is that, anyway?"

D, much to Kazuki's surprise, actually replied. "It is my soul."

"Your soul?"

"Yes. My essence."

"And... it glows?"

"Aren't you investigating something," D asked.

Kazuki smirked. It sounded almost annoyed at his persistent line of questioning about her past. Perhaps it wasn't as emotionless as it appeared. He returned his attention back to his work, using D's guiding light to find his way to the control room.

Scattered about the small room were various blueprints and circuitry manuals, empty food cartons, and controls presumably for the large cranes that were above. It appeared that these things had been left in a hurry for they were too important to be left behind normally.

Kazuki unrolled one of the blueprints and recognized it immediately. It was the large snake he had just battled at the Lucas estate. The schematic had various notations on size, power distribution, and shorthand that Kazuki could not make sense of. He rolled them back up and set them aside.

An object caught his attention out of the corner of his eye. He squinted in an attempt to make out the small metallic object to no avail. "D, I need more light over here."

The android obediently turned towards where Kazuki was pointing. The blue light revealed a small table that appeared to have various hygiene products spread across it. Eying them carefully, Kazuki picked up a comb that was lying on the table. "I wish there was a way to turn on the--"

D flipped a switch and the lights in the factory turned on, flooding the bay and exposing various scrap parts. Kazuki, brush still in hand, approached the control room window that looked out over the bay and stared in awe. Whoever was running this operation had serious funding. Judging from just the parts alone, they had more than enough resources to build two or three Zinv-sized robots.

Kazuki brought the brush up to his face and noticed something he could not see earlier. Green strands of hair littered the brush, indicating the color of the owner's hair. He glanced back at D, who was quietly watching him, and asked, "You wouldn't happen to have any relatives in town, would you?"

D cocked her head, uncertain as to what Kazuki was asking. He shrugged, placing the brush down on the control panel before him.

D's head suddenly snapped around. Its eye widened for a mere second before it spun around and scooped up Kazuki in its arms. Caught totally by surprise, Kazuki barely had time to grab the snake robot's blueprints before D had carried him out of the control room.

"D, what the hell is going on here? Put me down!"

The robot did not respond. It only increased its pace toward the door they had entered through.

"D! D!"

"No time for your usual insouciant attitude, Kazuki. Our lives are at stake."

A large blast from what now were the remains of the control room confirmed D's statement. The android's pace quickened as the ceiling above them began to collapse and fire spread, blocking their original entryway.

Halting immediately, D scanned the surroundings for another way out. It jumped leisurely out of the way as a large beam landed in the area it was just occupying. Spotting another exit, D launched itself toward it, Kazuki holding onto her arm tightly. As they approached, both ducked their heads. D slammed its body into the metal door with full force and continued running until it and Kazuki were a safe distance from the building.

Kazuki looked up at D. Its lifeless eye was staring into the flames as they consumed their one chance at discovering who built the snake robot. He turned his head and watched the remaining portions of the ceiling collapse in on the building.

The show over, Kazuki turned back to D. "Do you think you could put me down?"

D immediately removed its arms out from under him, letting him fall into a mud puddle beneath her.

He glared up at D, muttering, "You did that on purpose." Kazuki attempted to brush off his suit to no avail. He looked around for a moment, then offered his hand to D. "The least you could do is help me up."

"As if I'm going to do that. Do you have any idea how much this suit costs to dry clean?" D turned and walked away from the negotiator, leaving him drenched in his own ironic situation.

**

The sirens wailing increased in intensity, informing Kazuki that the Military Police had arrived. He threw the soiled suit into the trunk of his sedan and straightened the tie of his spare that he kept for such emergencies. He knew that they would be coming and there was no reason for him to not be presentable for their arrival.

"Why am I not surprised that you're here," Mitsuki Sanada's warm greeting nearly melted Kazuki's heart. "I suppose you were just in the neighborhood... Feeding the homeless, perhaps?"

Kazuki shook his head. "No, but I am as much in the dark as to what happened here as you. If you'll excuse me, I must be getting home."

Kazuki drowned out the sound of Major Sanada as she shrieked at him to come back and answer her questions. Sitting down in his car, he looked over at D, whom had been waiting patiently for his return.

"Let's go home, D."

"Yes."

Starting the ignition, Kazuki pulled away from the smoldering remains of the warehouse. As he watched the firemen and Military Police side-by-side sifting through the rubble, he couldn't help but wonder what had been going on in that facility and who exactly was behind the Lucas attack. For that matter, what was D and how did it fit in with the Lucas family?

Shrugging, Kazuki thought aloud, "Oh well, no need to worry myself sick."

D cocked its head as it looked at Kazuki. The gesture caught his eye and he turned toward it. "Hmm? What's wrong? Did you wish to express your undying love for me?"

Facing the road again, D commented, "You're a sleaze-ball, Kazuki Yotsuga."

A conclusion is simply the place where you got tired of thinking.

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